Depression is often undertreated in seniors
January 09, 2015
As a large generation of Americans ages into late life, many experts note the increasing importance of understanding and addressing depression in this group. “Depression is under-recognized and undertreated in older adults,” said Stephen Bartels, director of the Centers for Health and Aging at Dartmouth College. Older people sometimes have different symptoms of depression from younger ones, which may be both masked and exacerbated by other conditions common to aging. Antidepressants can help, but older adults’ specific needs should be taken into account; for instance, medications may cause side effects that are not tolerated as easily as by younger people. Due to concern about stigma, many older people consult their primary care physicians about their depression symptoms rather than seeking out mental health counseling. A recent study showed that an integrated care model, in which older patients’ doctors collaborated with special depression care managers, yielded positive outcomes.
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